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Travel for the curious

Cultural Discovery

Learn about the world that we share with others through art, culinary offerings, historical sites, architecture, and the everyday life around you.  
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Spain offers such a diversity of options that it can be hard to decide where to start. Art and architecture surround you while the culinary scene is heavily influenced by the diverse Iberian terrains, coastlines, and former colonies.

 

The Umayyads were prolific in their uniquely Islamic styles while The Age of Exploration utterly transformed the Iberian Peninsula, practically overnight.  El Greco, Goya, Dalí, Gaudí and Calatrava are just a few names in a proud succession that have left an indelible imprint.  Spending a Saturday night in Madrid on the pedestrianized street cafés, strolling the Gran Vía, on a rooftop terrace or in all night club may leave you considering a move here or the very least, how to get all the Spanish wine bottles home with you!

 

Quito, Ecuador's high-altitude capital is towered over by Andean landscapes. Visitors can even take a cable car from the city to Pichincha Volcano. Spanish plazas are lined with spectacular churches while local Andean highland residents clad in their identifying indigenous garb pass by. Both have left profound marks on the art, architecture, history, and rhythm of daily life in the city.  Influences from the Pacific, Andean and Amazon regions can also converge in Quito. Right on the doorstep of the city travelers can experience the bustle of small mountain market towns where local indigenous residents and farmers sell locally grown produce but local artists set up displays from which you can browse for unique works by the artists themselves.

 

Salvador, in the Brazilian state of Bahia, is perhaps the city in all of the America's where visitors can best experience the unique influences brought from Africa and Portugal. Musically, percussion features prominently with a group called Olodum while a newer genre called Axé blends several styles and will move you, almost literally, through the streets during Salvador’s Carnaval.

 

Exploring the colonial Pelourinho neighborhood’s baroque churches visitor encounter Africanized icons, spectacular gold leaf altars and cloisters clad in a particular style of Portuguese ceramic tile called an azulejo. A visit here transports visitors to the 16th and 17th centuries while it may also challenge you: the name of this neighborhood literally translates to “The Little Whipping Post.”  Learn about a practice called syncretism when you tie a ribbon at the Bonfim Basilica before hitting the beach in the afternoon.  On the culinary side, African influences are well represented.  No visit is complete without a visit to one of the women known as a Baiana for a bit of streetfood. Clad in their iconic white dresses, hoopskirts, lace accents, colorful jewelry, and unique headdress, they often serve a shrimp filled fritter called Acarajé deep fried in dênde oil, which is native to western Africa.

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The Aegean Sea’s islands and surrounding regions encompass so many of the well-known foundations of Western Civilization: Athens, Crete, Ephesus, Delphi, Troy and even Constantinople just beyond. Sitting at the maritime crossroads of antiquity it is hard not to also be in awe of the names that have been here: Minoans, Spartans, Persians, Macedonians, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, Mamelukes, Greeks, Turks. All of them have left their mark in the frescoes, literature, mosaics, imposing architecture and cuisine. Traveling here is a rewarding experience for the curious traveler.  Standing under the soaring dome of the Hagia Sofia, gazing at the ruins of the Acropolis or watching the sunset from one of the many Greek Isles are unforgettable experiences. Wandering the streets of any small port town amidst the daily catch of the local fishing fleet and sampling the fresh ingredients offered might just be the highlight for most curious travelers to the Aegean. 

 

Planning itineraries based around cultural discovery will best suit those actively seeking to engage with the people and culture of their destination in every way possible. Not merely content to check off boxes on a bucket list, Avid Nomad Travel will help visitors return home and tell the tale about where they’ve been and why it is unique.